Old Cops Teach New Picks

NYPD Rookies Learn To Relate

Monday, July 21, 2014

A veteran officer observes rookies leaving the 79th Precinct in the Partner Officer Program. (Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

 As the police department tries to reassure New Yorkers about a recent spike in shootings, a new program pairs rookies with seasoned officers to heal police-community relations at the same time. The 79th precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant is one of eight precincts taking part in a pilot program that aims to show new cops how to bring a more personable approach to law enforcement.

A rookie pitches in to feed residents as part of an annual Community Affairs sponsored event. / Ruddy Roye

Officer John Buchanan is one 82 rookies participating in Bedford Stuyvesant. In the old days — some six months or so ago —rookies rotated through a revolving list of neighborhoods without much continuity or oversight. The tactic, known as “Operation Impact”, was criticized because new officers brought little expertise to their police work in the city's highest crime areas. Trial and error didn't help build good habits or the department's image.

“I've wanted to be a police officer since I was a little kid — I've always just wanted to help people," said Buchanan. “I’ll be able to do that a little better than if I graduated in previous classes.”  The 22-year-old also expressed relief that he would get to regularly work with one of 10 mentors to help him make the transition from what he learned in the academy to the streets, with less mistakes.

In Von King Park across from the precinct recently, lessons in bonding were put to work as officers and detectives operated grills, cooking thousands of hamburgers and hot dogs to feed to mostly school-aged Brooklynites. 

The NYPD is promoting the importance of more stress-free interactions between police and community residents. / Ruddy Roye

Some came out for the free food but not the NYPD's new touchy-feely message. "I feel like they only try to be friendly to make their job easier, to find out what's going on," said 22 year old Rushina Shaw.

As the new officers attempt establish stronger roots in the neighborhood, they’re going to be assigned a regular beat. Six community mentors will introduce the young officers to residents and business owners in an attempt to make them more a part of the community they'll serve. The pilot is set to last through the rest of the year before city officials decide whether it should become permanent.

Captain John Chell, commander of the 79th precinct, taking time to shoot the breeze with a picnic-goer on Harmony Day. / Ruddy Roye


This story is the latest installment of the WNYC series RESET: Bedford-Stuyvesant, which examines effort to improve relations between the police and residents of one Brooklyn neighborhood.



David L. Lewis


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Comments [6]



Jul. 30 2014 01:06 AM
mgee from Crooklyn,N,Y.

maybe these mentors can also let the P.D. know where all the drug dealers and criminals hang out,but I doubt it this is nothing but a joke.I wonder who is going to be walking around with Al Sharpton Im sure he i going to show you how to do police work.

Jul. 26 2014 12:26 PM
Megan from The Bronx

Wow, it is amazing to find that this is a "new" policy. I hope it helps because I can tell you that as long as the NYPD are feared instead of seen as a force for good crime rates will continue to be higher than they should be. I am a middle class white person and I dread interacting with a member of the NYPD (unlike police from where I grew up, for example) because frankly I am afraid of them, at their rudeness at best, at their unpredictability and straight-up meanness and cruelty toward civilians at worst.

Jul. 21 2014 09:59 AM

The theories behind modern community policing are at least 20 years old. In 1960s TV policing (Mayberry, Dennis the Menace, Lassie, etc)... all policing was community policing. They did not use firehoses, then.

What happened between the early Civil Rights Era... through Giuliani/ Bloomberg stop-and-frisk has driven a wedge between the police and the communities they are intended to serve and protect.

Work like this is a long time coming. Hopefully it suggests the baddies in both the NYPD rank-and-file and the brass will be taking early retirement. Taking their draconian tactics and padded pensions with them.

Jul. 21 2014 09:46 AM
Fred from Brooklyn

I think this is a great start. The reactions will be skeptical to be sure, and will remain so for a while, so the key to the success of this program is consistent followup. Little by little, the hostility to the police will lessen, but it will take quite a long time, so the NYPD has to stick with this, and keep it going. This program was not designed to "make up for Eric Garner." The effect the Garner incident will have on community-police relations will depend on how the NYPD handles it.

Jul. 21 2014 08:26 AM
Kwende Idrissa Madu from Russellville Al

Does anyone really believe that a barbecue is going to make up for Eric Garner?

Jul. 21 2014 07:21 AM

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